Breville Barista Touch has highlighted a hidden cost of a smart home

Cupertino, November 15, 2021

In other words, the fact that I had a smart home made me spend an hour and a half more than I had planned on a Breville Barista Touch coffee machine.

I like gadgets. I especially like smart home devices. For me, they combine the undeniable practical benefits, comfort and attractiveness of gadgets. Even my friend, who has no interest in gadgets, has been captivated by most of our smart home technology.

But there are hidden costs to being one of the early adopters of what is still a relatively cutting-edge technology - both financial and otherwise…

Financial costs

There is, of course, the most obvious: smart home devices are not cheap, especially if you buy them at an early stage, before increasing competition and economies of scale reduce them to a more affordable level.

But there are other financial costs involved in being an early user with a taste for the latest and greatest technology. The main thing for me is that it forces me to break my number one rule for buying expensive things: Buy what you need once.

For years, this was my guiding principle. What many people do is buy something relatively cheap, then decide they want a better one and sometimes later decide they want an even better one. The end result is that you buy the thing you should have bought first, plus one or two other models. I always tried to eliminate the middleman and buy the thing that would keep me happy for decades to come.

That worked for hi-fi. It worked for headphones. It worked for home appliances. It even worked for bicycles.

But you can’t do that with technology in general - and smart home technology in particular - because (a) things just aren’t built to last, as they once were, and (b) technology is constantly improving, so Buying the best item today is no protection against lust after a better one a little later.

Example: robot vacuum cleaner. I liked one that I reviewed enough to buy when the review unit came back. At the time, she was the most sophisticated model. Three years later, the latest cars are self-emptying, which is a huge improvement in comfort (see this space for a review).

Time and frustration cost

If you can buy all HomeKit products, then setup is theoretically simple. But not everything we want is available with HomeKit support, and the configuration procedures can be arcane.

Anything that requires me to open an app, start the setup process, then switch my iPhone to a Wi-Fi hotspot generated by the device itself before returning to the app, always makes my heart sink. I don't think I remember a single time it worked the first time, and in the worst case, you can get through the loop four or five times, only eventually making it work by sacrificing a goat.

Once you have it up and running, it may not stay that way. State-of-the-art technology is not always reliable, especially when a wireless network is involved. Occasionally, the solution will be simple, such as starting a hub. However, more often than not, you will need to delete a piece of kit from the application and configure it from scratch.

A more insidious effect

Once you get on the smart home route, you don't want to stop. Good, I I don't want to stop, but you're not going to tell me it's just me ...

This can even affect non-smart home technology - which has led to this piece.

I recently decided to replace a small, basic bean coffee machine with one from a bean to a cup. I had an Italian friend passionate about coffee to advise me. He showed me the one he has, which is a high-quality manual machine with professional functions, such as adjustable micro-foam, and I almost bought it. Except …

There was another model, identical in real coffee making capabilities, but with buttons and dials replaced with a touch screen. Breville Barista Touch, sold in the UK under the Sage brand.

You can choose from a range of beverage types, such as a latte or long black, and it will handle all the settings for that drink. If you have special preferences for things like your coffee dose or foam level, you can schedule up to eight of your own drinks, give them your own names and icons, and then get exactly what you want by tapping a single screen. button.

Breville Barista Touch was one and a half times the price of the equally capable Breville Barista Express.

It's not really smart-home technology in the sense that I would normally use the term. There is no application and it cannot be controlled by Siri. There is even a good reason not to choose this model: I have friends with Breville / Sage handheld devices that they have for 20 years, while the chances that the touch screen will last so long seem lower.

But I bought it anyway. Now, of course, my craving for gadgets has begun - but another factor was that a completely manual car seemed a little out of place in a smart home. So I'm totally to blame for that.

Where are you with your own smart trip home? Please share your own experiences in the comments.

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